UPDATE: Prayers Sought for Attack Victim
People are asked to pray and say Psalms on behalf of Daniel Aryeh ben Tamar, the 13-year-old who was critically wounded in the Thursday afternoon attack on an Israeli school bus next to Kibbutz Sa'ad, near Gaza.
Daniel Aryeh is fighting for his life in the intensive care unit at Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva, where he was lifted after an anti-tank shell exploded next to his bus.
A Jewish school bus is blown up by devout Muslims, while the world gyrates to the deathly beat of the Islamic war drum. A Jewish school bus. Where is the President? Where is the UNSC? We are being led by the evil and the inhumane.
It was an anti-tank missile so the bus was the target. Deliberately targeted a school bus.
I do not know how Israel will respond, but it is rational to restate the obvious: there is no such thing as disproportionate force when responding to a missile attack on a school bus.
Israel unleashed airstrikes against Hamas targets across the border as well as tank fire that killed a 50-year-old civilian outside his home and wounded nine other people, Palestinian medics said.
The sudden outbreak of violence illustrated the fragile situation along the Israel-Gaza border, where small bouts of violence can quickly escalate into heavy-scale warfare.
After a two-year lull, tensions have been rising between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza over the past few weeks. From Israel's perspective, Thursday's attack was the most serious of this period.
Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, ordered the army to respond quickly and said he held the Hamas militant group, which rules Gaza, responsible for the violence. A small militant faction known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.
TV footage showed a yellow bus with its windows blown out and its rear charred. Police said it was struck by an anti-tank missile. The apparent targeting of a civilian bus, and the Israeli casualties, marked a significant escalation in recent cross-border attacks.
Israeli President Shimon Peres condemned the attack from New York, where he was holding meetings at the United Nations.
"This is another example of Gaza becoming a terror state," he said in a statement. "Hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in southern Israel cannot sleep quietly at night as a result of the rocket fire from Gaza."
Palestinian officials reported tank fire toward Gaza shortly after the missile attack. The Israeli fire killed a 50-year-old man sitting outside his home and wounded seven people, said Palestinian health official Adham Abu Salmiya.